Mister Toad's Wild Ride

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From the front porch of the farmhouse where she was watering some plants the entire accident was experienced as the screeching of tires followed by the crumping sound of metal. Once, twice and then a final crump. By the time she turned to look, it was over. A car lay upside down in her front yard with an unconscious driver inside suspended from the safety harness.

But from my point of view it was a vastly different experience. Immediately after the brake pedal went fully to the floor came the certain knowledge that the car was no longer in control and I would not make the curve ahead. Along with this realization came a superheightened awareness. As I swung first into the guardrail, I actually saw the zinc rivets pop. I heard the splintering of the wood posts and when the twisted rail peeled up I watched as the windshield exploded. Bits of glass glittered and filled the air around me. Like asteroids in space they tumbled and floated past so slowly that I could have reached up and plucked one out of the air. I looked past to the horizon which was at a completely wrong angle. There was a woman standing on a vertical porch holding a hose that shot a sideways stream of water. I looked to my left and saw blades of grass bend and flatten under my as-yet-intact drivers window. I saw my reflection looming in the glass and then there was nothing.

Some years after that, I was talking with a drag-car racer. I asked how, in the few seconds between start and finish, between zero and two-hundred miles per hour, he had time to throttle, shift and steer. He said, "Oh, well, you see, when the bank of starting lights begins counting down, everything goes into slow motion. The engine races up, the clutch pops, you begin feathering the throttle, you watch the gages, look out ahead and even notice a bee spiraling in towards your faceplate.

I concluded that what drag-races and car wrecks have in common is that the driver's body must think that it won't survive.

So, what would I wish for? To have the experience of superheightened awareness coupled with the slowed sense of time whenever I wanted to really get the most out of an experience - and I would like this to happen in circumstances less dire.

There have been reports of this kind of thing as a result of ingesting LSD or from prolonged fasting and meditation, but each, in my opinion, is just as dire as a car wreck.

No, what is needed is a perfectly safe device that is the brain-waveform equivalent of a fun-house ride. When turned on, it would impress upon the frontal lobe a steady stream of all kinds of little surprises to startle and take its breath away. Much like Mister Toad's Wild Ride. When turned off, it would leave the brain exhilarated but unharmed. But, during its little ride to nowhere, the brain would notice everything going on around it.

In fact, I shall call it the Mister Toad. I envision a small pocket or purse sized puck with some unnecessary knobs and blinking lights to give it credibility. It could even be made to look like a little toad - with a motoring jacket and tiny goggles.

Oh, I want one of these!

The University's just down the road. I bet I can find an interested geek.


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